1

desolate

adjective des·o·late \ ˈde-sə-lət , ˈde-zə- \

Definition of desolate

1 :devoid of inhabitants and visitors :deserted
  • a desolate abandoned town
2 :joyless, disconsolate, and sorrowful through or as if through separation from a loved one
  • a desolate widow
3 a :showing the effects of abandonment and neglect :dilapidated
  • a desolate old house
b :barren, lifeless
  • a desolate landscape
c :devoid of warmth, comfort, or hope :gloomy
  • desolate memories

desolately

adverb

desolateness

noun

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Examples of desolate in a Sentence

  1. a desolate house abandoned many years ago

  2. destitute and desolate since her husband walked out on her

Recent Examples of desolate from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'desolate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

What is the Word Origin of desolate?

Something that is desolate is literally or figuratively "abandoned," so you probably won't be surprised to learn that "desolate" has its roots in the Latin verb desolare, meaning "to abandon." The Middle English word desolat comes from the past participle of "desolare," which in turn combines the prefix de- and the adjective solus, meaning "alone." "Desolate" is not at all alone in this family of words. Some other familiar descendants of "solus" include "solitary," "sole," "solo," "solitude," and "soliloquy."

Origin and Etymology of desolate

Middle English desolat, from Latin desolatus, past participle of desolare to abandon, from de- + solus alone

Synonym Discussion of desolate

alone, solitary, lonely, lonesome, lone, forlorn, desolate mean isolated from others. alone stresses the objective fact of being by oneself with slighter notion of emotional involvement than most of the remaining terms.
    • everyone needs to be alone sometimes
solitary may indicate isolation as a chosen course
    • glorying in the calm of her solitary life
but more often it suggests sadness and a sense of loss.
    • left solitary by the death of his wife
lonely adds to solitary a suggestion of longing for companionship.
    • felt lonely and forsaken
lonesome heightens the suggestion of sadness and poignancy.
    • an only child often leads a lonesome life
lone may replace lonely or lonesome but typically is as objective as alone.
    • a lone robin pecking at the lawn
forlorn stresses dejection, woe, and listlessness at separation from one held dear.
    • a forlorn lost child
desolate implies inconsolable grief at loss or bereavement.
    • desolate after her brother's death
dismal, dreary, bleak, gloomy, cheerless, desolate mean devoid of cheer or comfort. dismal indicates extreme and utterly depressing gloominess.
    • dismal weather
dreary, often interchangeable with dismal, emphasizes discouragement resulting from sustained dullness or futility.
    • a dreary job
bleak suggests chill, dull, and barren characteristics that utterly dishearten.
    • the bleak years of the depression
gloomy often suggests lack of hope or promise.
    • gloomy war news
cheerless stresses absence of anything cheering.
    • a drab and cheerless office
desolate adds an element of utter remoteness or lack of human contact to any already disheartening aspect.
    • a desolate outpost

2

desolate

verb des·o·late \ -ˌlāt \

Definition of desolate

desolated; desolating
transitive verb
:to make desolate:
a :to deprive of inhabitants
  • The neighboring towns were desolated.
b :to lay waste
  • desolating the city with bombs
c :forsake
  • their desolated families back home
d :to make wretched

desolater

or desolator play \-ˌlā-tər\ noun

desolatingly

play \-ˌlā-tiŋ-lē\ adverb

Examples of desolate in a Sentence

  1. totally desolated the city with aerial bombs

Origin and Etymology of desolate


DESOLATE Defined for Kids

1

desolate

adjective des·o·late \ ˈde-sə-lət \

Definition of desolate for Students

1 :having no comfort or companionship :lonely
2 :left neglected or in ruins
  • a desolate old house
3 :without signs of life :barren
  • a dry, desolate land
4 :cheerless, gloomy
  • She put aside desolate thoughts.

desolately

adverb

2

desolate

verb des·o·late \ ˈde-sə-ˌlāt \

Definition of desolate for Students

desolated; desolating
:to ruin or leave without comfort or companionship


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